It's easy to let your expectations grow out of control when you find out Sony is releasing "God of War III" on March 16, because the "God of War" games so far have been masterpieces.
As PlayStation 2 gamers know, the first "God of War" came out in 2005. The second came out in 2007. And recently, finally-finally, Sony put both games on one popular disk, "God of War Collection," for the PS 3.
If you're not a gamer, let me give you an analogy for perspective. Imagine if Alfred Hitchcock made two 20-hour masterpieces, and suddenly both were available on one Blu-ray disk. "God of War Collection" warrants that high praise.
The star of the series is the Spartan anti-hero Kratos. He lives in the mythical era of the Zeus gods. The gods once promoted him to God of War, but he let power go to his head, so Zeus demoted him to mere mortal.
This made Kratos very angry, and he was already a super hothead. He once cut down his wife and child during battle, while he was so hopped up on power during a killing spree, he didn't recognize them until their lifeless bodies littered the ground.
As you can imagine, Kratos is tortured by this murderous past. (His poetic reflection in "God of War III" is a stanza of two lines: "I hope/ for nothing.")
Anyway, for up to 40 hours in "God of War Collection," you play as Kratos, blades of fire strapped to your arms.
You slay hundreds upon hundreds of warriors and magical creatures, like Cyclopses and Medusas and three-headed snake dragons. Those baddies stand between you and Zeus, who you vowed to kill in retaliation for that demotion.
You're constantly doing different, fascinating things. One example: You climb up the innards of a god that appears in the form of a Statue of Liberty-sized megaman. That god tries to bash you with giant fists.
You're constantly traveling across beautifully illustrated terrains, from giant and ornate castles to underground swimming pools, plus bridges hanging a mile high over canyons that are so majestic they make "Lord of the Rings" movies seem quaint at times.
And everything works perfectly. Your fighting controls are flawlessly responsive and fluid. So, you can start to kill one guy at your left, then immediately turn around and kill a guy to your right, without pause.
A nice bonus is "Collection" comes with a short, playable demo of "God of War III."
That demo is too short to review, but it's reassuring. It looks and feels like "God of War" - ambitious, sumptuous, addictive, adventurous. Plus, since "III" is a PS 3 game, it's drawn in high definition, so now the blood looks sick, and the artistic environments glisten.
In short, the demo makes "God of War III" look like "God of War" on steroids. That's like saying a new action actor is like Arnold Schwarzenegger on steroids. See how my expectations are running amok? "I hope/ for everything."
("God of War Collection" by Sony for PS 3 - Plays immensely fun. Looks great. Challenging to very challenging, depending on settings you choose. Rated "M" for blood, gore, intense violence, nudity, sexual themes, strong language. Four stars out of four.)
Doug Elfman is an award-winning entertainment columnist who lives in Las Vegas. He blogs at www.lvrj.com/columnists/Doug_Elfman.html.